It wasn’t like there hadn’t been warning. After all, hadn’t Ned Stark told us, years or even eons ago, Winter is Coming? His whole dour doomed damned family intoned it, repeatedly, Winter is Coming. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, every jolly soul I’ve met before, during and aft my recent relocation has said something along the lines of “boy (snicker, snicker) are you ready for winter?”
And I thought I was. I bought coats, multiple coats. Such a coat collection as you’ve ever seen. Rain coats, puffy coats, polar coats. Just last week, I added a flash new down jacket to the mix, after coveting a friend’s snappy wrapper. Snow boots, rain boots, mud boots, disco boots. I had gloves, scarves galore, ear muffs even. No hats, my head is too large. Okay, a couple of knit hats that I bought with false hope. They fit as well as a yarmulke. So, not at all. And a trapper hat that is also too small but surprisingly fetching.
I also had followed the advice of coworkers. Two snow shovels, one for the patio, one for the car. A small ice scraper for the car. A larger ice scraper with a brush for the car. And the car itself, a Subaru, which my research had told me was the safest and most reliable car for winter driving. I mean, within my price range. I’m sure a Range Rover or Land Cruiser is even safer and more reliable, but not in the budget. I’ve spent too much on coats and hats that don’t fit.
So, I was ready. Ready for winter. And then, it didn’t come. They kept talking about it on the news. Warmest December on record! Effects of El Nino already in play! Rain, but no snow. 69 degrees on Christmas Eve. The Fed Ex guy delivered in shorts. Babies crying. Children sad. No white Christmas. Santa’s sled had to be put on a trailer bed and towed behind a Range Rover (Santa has rich friends!).
I sort of felt responsible. I alone had brought the warmth from my homeland, the land of sunshine and beautiful produce and perpetual tans.
And then, it happened. Slowly, softly, four days after Christmas, the snow came. In the night, so white, so bright. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and peered outside to see a light scattering of powder. I snuggled back in bed excited about what the morning would bring. And in the morning, there was a good several inches covering the grounds of my complex. I took Daisy out for her first morning walk and marveled at the pretty scene. I even shoveled a sweet little path on my patio, from the front door to the gate.
Rookie mistake! Because within about an hour, the soft snow had turned to sleeting, freezing rain. The sweet path had turned into a lane of treachery, a veritable slippery scary ice trail. I felt like Anna. No Elsa! No Anna, when she tried to climb those frozen steps up to Elsa’s ice castle. And can we just digress for a sec? Conceal don’t feel is a TERRIBLE message! I mean, don’t get me wrong, love that movie but if you think about it, it teaches the children an awful lesson. Okay, in the end we all learn that love can solve everything, but still, don’t you sometimes find yourself humming “conceal don’t feel”? You know you do!
Okay, back to me. And the snow. Do you want to build a snowman? Never mind!
Fortunately, I was already scheduled to work remotely yesterday, so aside from having to walk poor Daisy Petals through the sleet, I just stayed in, worked, made soup, stuff like that. I didn’t even bother to check out my car, because 1- Subaru (see above), and 2- wasn’t going anywhere (see directly behind and worry if you have memory loss, it was just a few words ago). This turned out to be Rookie Mistake Number Two, aka Rookie Mistake El Grande! Because, my solid reliable Subaru had turned into a Subarusicle! Frozen, solid ice completely covering the car, like one big car shaped block. And remember all of those scrapers and shovels I had so presciently purchased? In the trunk! Which was frozen shut! Oh dear!
I spent about half an hour this morning trying to chip away at it, with my hands, a stick, the warmth of my tears. No go. I retreated back inside and pondered another day without leaving the house. I emailed my parents. I messaged a friend. I googled trunk frozen shut. I went back outside and glared, hoping perhaps the hot beam of my despair might work. No dice. I went back inside and googled trunk frozen shut again, and this time, actually read the advice. Then armed with a kettle full of very hot water, a spatula and a lot of determination, I set to it. Oh yeah, I also started the car and the defrosters (yay Subaru). It took another half hour, but this time it was successful and I was able to retrieve all of the snow removal equipment from the trunk and dutifully place it in the backseat.
There’s a learning curve, right? Obviously, this was just a very tiny appetizer of what will come. I know now not to keep my shovel and rake in the trunk. Not to shovel the patio path before freezing sleet. My wonderful neighbor came by last night and showed me these magical pellets you can sprinkle on the patio and walks to keep them from freezing. I’ll remember to use the defrosters. I won’t let 24 hours go before trying to clear the car off. I’ll learn, it will get better. After all, winter is coming, and I need to be ready.
The end, for now
Well, I’ve made it through the first month of my big transition. Life is pretty good, but it’s all still strange and mostly unfamiliar. Working on the premise that it will take about three months to feel fully settled, I’m a bit comforted to know that I’m only a third of the way through.
I have this theory, that unfortunately I don’t really practice, but anyway, it’s a good theory and it goes like this: worrying is useless, because the things you worry about generally don’t happen, while things that you had never even given a moment’s thought to can suddenly rise up and give you a nice juicy bite on the patootie. So, I look back on the last couple of years and the time I spent worrying about drastic things, like becoming homeless, which of course would never have happened. Wasted time and energy. And before I moved, I was extremely concerned about how Daisy would react to this move. After all, she’s twelve (I don’t even want to know how many years that is in dog years, because she will always be a puppy to me). How she would fare with being driven across the country by a stranger, when she doesn’t even like to drive to the park? How she would deal with cold weather, and having to “do her business” on a small patio, when she’s always had a large yard to run around?
So here’s the update. Daisy is doing…fantastically. She has adjusted without any issues at all. She got along famously with her cross country driver, even when they were stalled by bad weather and the drive took several days longer than anticipated. I was a wreck, missing her, but according to the nightly texts I received, she and her chauffer were having a grand time, romping through snow (which, mind you, she had never encountered before), wearing a little coat (I thought she hated outerwear), and generally just having a grand old time. And when she arrived, she adjusted to the new house and new life without problems. She can’t climb the stairs in the new house, but she gets carried up and down. She doesn’t like to pee and poop on the patio, so now the princess gets walked three times a day, which allows her to meet other dogs and admiring neighbors, which she enjoys very much. She has assumed ownership of the white plumpy chair in the living room, the one with the pink cashmere throw, like the throne she so justly deserves. She has, in fact, completely and totally acclimated.
I haven’t adjusted quite as well yet, but I’m working on it. I am very much a creature of habit, and had a solid routine in California, my circle of friends who I had known forever, my house, my yard, the sandwich shop where I didn’t even have to say my order, because they automatically started making it as soon as I walked in the door. My Saturday morning trip to Trader Joe’s to buy flowers every week, the carwash, the ladies at the checkout counters at Ralphs and Gelsons. My noisy neighbors. My quiet neighbors.
I miss those things and those people. Frankly, and I’m a little ashamed to admit it, I miss my old life. Even though I still talk to my family and best friend as regularly as I did before, I didn’t expect to be quite as homesick as I am. It’s a palpable pain, and it makes me feel weak. I don’t like it at all. I am very aware of the opportunity I’ve been given, so grateful to have a good solid job after all of the stress and uncertainty of the last two years. I remember thinking so many times, if only I had a job, nothing would ever bother me again. But of course, that’s unrealistic. I am human, and it would probably be a little weird if I wasn’t having some adjustment issues, having just changed, oh, about every little thing in my life.
So, for now, I focus on the good things, and take comfort in knowing it will all get better. It’s beautiful here, for one thing. I love my drive to work, through a nice little New England town, past gorgeous historic houses, the kind I have always fantasized about living in. It’s possible that fantasy could now become a reality! My coworkers are very nice. I’ve started to make a couple of friends. The sweet little old lady (I’m not being hyperbolic, she’s about 4’11” and probably in her eighties) at the grocery store recognizes me now and calls me Sweetie. I’m using google maps less, and starting to recognize roads and landmarks. I made it to work and back the other day without any directional help at all. And, I found a good place for sandwiches. They don’t know my name yet, but I’m sure that’s only a matter of time.
The end, for now